When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the seemingly endless amount of Google updates – going by the code names Panda and Penguin – have meant that many websites across the world have suffered in search. But if you follow some simple steps it's not hard to future proof your SEO efforts.
From duplicate content and spammy links, to directory submissions and over optimized keywords, it seems that Google is on a mission to provide its users with the best content on the best sites. As a new start-up business looking to be higher in search, you may be wondering where on earth you start!
The good news is that you don’t have to fear Google’s constant updates if you stick to the rules. With that in mind, here’s five top tips from one of the UK’s leading companies, so the next time a big update comes out, you aren’t worrying about your rankings.
#1 – Your success lies in your content
There’s no doubt about it – your success in search relies on the content on your website. People use Google to search for information – so if your words are interesting and informative, creative, impartial and most importantly UNIQUE – you’ll be future-proofing your website without even realizing it.
When all is said and done, Google’s search spiders are essentially programs designed to crawl sites and look for certain words, links or patterns, so prove to these spiders that your site is offering great information. As a start-up you’re pushed for time, but don’t be tempted to use duplicate content, such as manufacturer’s product descriptions. Offer something your competition doesn’t and always, always use natural language.
#2 – Your success lies in your website structure
Google’s spiders love websites which they can crawl quickly and easily, returning to Google with the information they need. As such, your website needs to be designed in such a way which allows this to happen.
With that in mind, make sure your new website has canonical URLs, use permanent 301 redirects if you have changed your domain name, and create a custom Error 404 page to keep customers on your site when inbound links are broken. To make the spider more efficient, always post a valid robots.txt file and a valid XML-based sitemap.
#3 – Building links to your site
Google’s updates have hit websites with links on poor-quality websites hard. And we mean hard.
For a long time, many businesses operated under the mantra that “the more links you have, the better”. While that may have been the case then, it’s certainly not now. Those businesses which have thousands of links on directories and spammy ad-heavy websites are paying the price.
As a new start-up you are in an ideal position to avoid this pitfall. So if you want to avoid the same fate, make sure that all the links you build to your site are placed on good quality, high authority websites. Be sure to check the site’s back link profile (who is linking to it) using a tool called Open Site Explorer. Once you’re happy the website’s official and will benefit your profile, drop them an email and ask about the possibility of a link through a guest post.
#4 – Don’t overlook Social Media
Social Media is all the rage nowadays.
When it comes to promoting your website’s content, you should use social media to build up your community by connecting with your fans and potential customers. Be sure to regularly publish your blog posts and retweet interesting news. Set up a Facebook account and engage with your friends – you can do this through fun competitions and by asking questions. If you become an expert in your field you will develop a reputation as a trusted authority with great posts.
However, don’t jump into Social if you don’t have the time to commit to it. If you are short of time then there’s nothing worse than setting your Social Media profiles up and leaving them neglected as it can do more harm than good. If someone was to complain without you responding, you’re setting yourself up for a fall!
#5 – Avoid the spam and over optimised keywords
Our final tip is in avoiding associating yourself with spam - legitimate inbound links from high-authority websites is the only way to go.
You can future-proof your website by helping your users by avoiding getting listed on spam sites and making sure your content only uses the keywords which matter. For example, develop descriptive and relevant text for each page’s title and description, and useful alternative text tabs for images. Don’t go overboard by keeping each page natural – it will help “long-tail” searches.
The overall message is to keep each page compelling and designed in a way to keep the user on it for as long as possible. Use internal links to pages which pack a punch, as this will help you to develop relevancy to those keyword queries.
To sum up…
As a start-up you are in a perfect position to beat your competitors in search by following these tips.
You can future-proof your website from future Google updates by ensuring your content is clear, useful, engaging and unique. Make your site as easy to crawl as possible and don’t overlook Social Media as a powerful tool for sharing new developments. With a bit of forward-thinking and hard work you can be sure your website remains top in search for a long time to come.